Trucking Industry Learns to Live With ELD Digital Monitoring

August 27, 2018 by David Elfin, @davidelfin

When a federal rule requiring truckers to track their driving time with digital electronic logging devices started in December, many said the regulation would destroy their businesses. Some quit the industry.

Although myriad technical hiccups with the devices created problems when the mandate went into effect, the industry is learning to live with the new rule. Some truckers say the devices have provided relief from the pressure under the old paper logging system to cheat and get extra miles on the road.

“I wouldn’t drive if I had to go back to paper,” said Joel Morrow, an owner-operator from Ohio.

The ELD regulation is intended to ensure that truckers comply with a federal hours-of-service rule. The rule limits driving to no more than 11 hours a day within a 14-hour workday. Drivers must then be off duty for 10 consecutive hours. Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration rules, drivers and their employers can be fined thousands of dollars if their devices show hours-of-service violations.

“At a previous company I drove for, as long as your receipts matched, they didn’t care what you did with your logs. They always pushed you,” said Clark Reed, a driver for Nussbaum Transportation in Hudson, Ill.

Other drivers tell a similar story.

“They would never outright tell you to [cheat], but if you didn’t get it done, suddenly you were being given some really crappy runs,” said Henry Albert, a veteran owner-operator.

Since the FMCSA launched strict enforcement of the regulation earlier this year, hours-of-service violations have declined. Last December, 1.2 percent of roadside inspections produced violations for not having ELDs, but that rate has been below 0.7 percent in each of the past four months, according to FMCSA data. Roadside hours-of-service violations plummeted from 16.8 percent of trucks inspected in May 2017 to 9.5 percent in May 2018.

“It’s still early in the process, but the data is going in the right direction,” said Dan Horvath, director of safety policy for the American Trucking Associations.

The FMCSA phased in enforcement of the regulation to “give people a little bit of extra time to adjust, both industry and law enforcement, and what we’ve seen, especially since April 1, is that compliance is really high,” said Joe DeLorenzo, director of the FMCSA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance.

Nonetheless, some in the trucking industry object to the digital monitoring of drivers.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association remains firmly against the mandate, said Norita Taylor, the trade group’s spokeswoman.

The group has mounted several legal challenges to the rule but has been rebuffed.

In June the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not consider a petition by the OOIDA to hear its argument against the Department of Transportation and the FMCSA requirement to install ELDs in heavy-duty trucks.

“I’m hoping that challenges to ELDs are done in the legal sense,” Ray Martinez, administrator of the FMCSA, told Trucks.com. “The temperature has certainly gone down.”

Still the OOIDA plans to continue its fight.

“The feedback we’re getting from our members is that ELDs don’t improve safety and may actually decrease safety by making them feel more pressed for time,” Taylor said. “They’re being micro-managed down to the nanosecond.”

Truckers have reported problems with the devices, Taylor said. Some drivers have had trouble getting ELDs to track time and transfer data accurately. They told Trucks.com that some of the devices were reporting that drivers were hundreds of miles from their actual locations.

The FMCSA allows ELD manufacturers to self-certify on a federal registry that their devices work. It does not check every device.

The regulation is creating other problems, she said. Drivers are finding that they must end their workdays sooner than normal to allow time to find a place to park. They also are having to park more often along interstate ramps. According to the American Transportation Research Institute, truck drivers spend about an hour looking for parking every day.

But others said complaints about ELDs were misplaced.

“I was in a traffic jam recently, and everybody started cussing about their ELDs,” Albert said. “I’m like, ‘The ELDs and the hours of service aren’t the problem. The problem is the traffic jam.’ All an ELD does is make the true problems visible.”

Reed said that ELDs had improved drivers’ jobs.

“Instead of breaking things into 15-minute increments like we used to with paper logs, it’s down to the minute,” Reed said. “If it only takes me 10 minutes to fuel, I’m saving those five minutes. I have more drive time.”

But there’s no going over the drive time anymore. Drivers need to plan better and figure ways to be efficient, Reed said.

Drivers are “either going to figure it out or they’re going to go out of business,” Albert said.

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11 Responses

  1. Lee schmitt

    You are on drugs, I want to track every minute of your life with a ankle monitor and then see how much you love being told what you can do

    Reply
  2. Jim

    Wow. Where to begin, there are so many things y’all left out. Items lije data, who sees it, who shares ( sells) the collected data, and the whole self certification with no common data retrieval proocols mess. How about the fact, yes it’s a fact, drivers are responsible for showing enforcement officers hiw to work these things. Was law enforcement not kept up to speed, or is it again, lack of cohesive leadership by the Federal Agency and a disregard for common sense, as usual. They claim 26 lives will be saved, at a cost to the industry of almost 2 billion, but yet the same advocacy groups that came up with those numbers claim basic drivers ed is too costly. All these devices have shown, is yet more money saved by larger carriers on training , as well as fostering a continued dependence on gadgets instead of actual safe operators, well trained, and well compensated. Try actual reporting, not just rewording ATA press releases someday. You might be surprised by the results.

    Reply
  3. Jim Bardsley

    A few questions, if you will. One, Harv Albert stated he was assigned crappy loads as an owner operator, when he wouldn’t run illegal. What actual owner operator is ” assigned” loads, or did he penalize himself?
    Second, why is there no common data retrieval protocol for these devices, often leaving the driver in the position of having to “train” enforcement officers on hiw to retrieve data. Was there no training prior to the enforcement date?? or just a lack of leadership from the federal agency in the “self certification” process, allowing this to occur?
    Third, data, as collected by the device, and stored. Who is responsible for security, can it be shared ( sold), if so, what restrictions are in place to protect proprietary ( my customer) info such as routes, etc? Again, questions that have never been answered in any of the sessions to date. Maybe, instead of rewording ATA press releases, and “interviewing” the folks they recommend, some actual investigative reporting may be needed.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  4. zoranda newman

    This article is purr BS!! WHO DID YOU TALK TO? ATA OR ATA DRIVERS?? They dont represent the majority of drivers on the roafs. You want to print a factual article, talk to REAL drivers.

    Reply
  5. Real Trucker

    Is this CNN or MSNBC? This is FAKE News. This mandate haa reduced safety, created a more severe driver shortage, is causing loads to be late, and is causing prices for consumers to go through the roof.

    The is no upside unless you are the softeare developers who design it, the service providers who receive the recurring feesI, the company who makes or sells the hardware, the cellular companys who a raking big dollars in monthly service plans so that they workI, or a wall street investor who invested in any of these things.

    This article is a LIE

    Reply
  6. Gary daily

    No body wants to work a longer days just have a little freedom to when you leave take a break to avoid weather or traffic I’m run less then 500 miles a day load and unload twice and can’t do it sitting in lines on that 14 hour rule bull

    Reply
  7. Eddie

    The problem with the FMCSA and the use of the ELD , the consideration regarding the highway and local road construction conditions around the U.S. has not been mentioned. The time is being eaten away causing delivery delays. What are we to do when the weather changes for the worse. Most importantly why aren’t the drivers being compensated when they are forced to shut down early becouse of those conditions. We are supposed to get paid demerge time when sitting at a delivery site for more than 2 to 4 hours but we never see that but the state department is quick to inforce a fine on the driver regarding ELD violations and not enforce demerge time violations by the brokers or vendors. When does the driver get his or hers fair treatment. mabe we should all shut down for a couple of day and see what happens.

    Reply
  8. Paul

    WAKE THE @#*! UP. You are acting like puppets by singing the praises of ELD’S . It is a flawed system. You become a slave to the clock in the current setup. I’m seeing drivers half a sleep because if they stop for a one hour nap the clock continues to run and then they run out of hours. Common sense and safety goes out the window in the current setup. We need to have the rules revised in the name of safety and common sense. We need to be able to “stop the clock” to be able to take up to 2 hours off duty without counting against the 14 hours. The 2 hours off could be taken all at once or split into 2 periods, say a half hour and if necessary a one and a half hour stop or not at all. It would be up to the driver. This would eliminate the pain in the a$$ half hour break. I don’t need to be told I need a break. I am a 29 year veteran driver. I am not a CVO or any of that other crap they call truck drivers these days. I am proud of my profession and I am highly offended by the way the industry is over regulated. Time to wake, revise the rules and bring back common sense.

    Reply
  9. Don

    In whose demented mind have we learned to accept a government ordered babysitter for a grown man or woman. The biggest part of drivers i know hate these things. As owner operators we cant even drive home after a run. In the fmcsa own words “it is considered a continuation of the previous run and has to be done on duty”. FMCSA said that personally in a news story. So how is it fair you can drive to the store or truck stop offduty but not home.

    Reply
  10. ken webster

    I was at a traffic jam caused by a accident( in august 2018) over 20 trucks were parked on the right shoulder because they had to take a 30 minute stop or were out of hours the tow trucks and the fire trucks could not get to accident. The police had to call in a private helicopter ( air ambulance) at over $20,000 . Note this was the second accident half a km from the first one happened 90 minutes later. Who pays for this. We need to provide parking for these trucks with no hours and prevent this from happening again. 226 889 9299 The F.M.C.S.A. needs to make any receiver who sends a truck out without enough time to get to safe parking 100% responsible for the costs of any accident plus a $500.00 us fine per event, then tell me E-logs will work We have lost 40% of cross border truck drivers in the last 5 months. They are taking Canada only runs on paper logs and tell me when E logs come to Canada they will sell their tractors. The company drivers mostly got other non trucking jobs mostly construction or firemen jobs.

    Reply

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